New teacher diaries

The copy wars

New Teacher Diaries

Ask new teachers about the biggest challenges they face and they might say classroom management, lesson planning or even navigating the various assessments and accountability issues that grew out of No Child Left Behind. But for this new teacher, the biggest difficulty I have experienced is using the copy machine.

Don’t get me wrong, I am quite adept at using the machine itself. I can do the works: double-sided copies, re-sizing, printing on card stock, you name it! I’ve even been known to clear a few paper jams in my day. The machine is not the issue; the real problems at my school arise when one attempts to access a machine. There are a couple of obstacles in the quest to make copies:

  1. Bizarre photocopier requirements

    There is a copier in the English/Foreign Language office that works occasionally. Our AP has placed a limit of no more than 20 copies to be made at a time on said machine. This is just a tad inconvenient, as an average class consists of 34 students. The idea behind the page number requirement is to prevent teachers from making multiple class sets, and to instead utilize the copy room.

    Unfortunately for us the copy room (rather, the keeper of the copy room) has its own page number requirements. This room has two copy machines, one heavy-duty machine and a regular photocopier. The normal copier is password-protected and supposedly the keeper of the copy room is the only one with the code. (Unfortunately for her, most of the school has cracked the tricky code of “1234.”) The heavy-duty machine has threatening signs all over it reminding the staff that only 50-plus copies should be made.

    So, if a teacher needs to make between 21 and 49 copies, she’s out of luck. Unless, of course, she waits for the keeper to return and make the copies on her password-protected machine.

  2. Contrary to popular belief, copy machines are actually owned by school personnel, not the DOE

    Even though all copy machines and toner are purchased by the DOE, and housed in buildings owned by the DOE, the copy machines actually belong to the people who share the office or work in the general vicinity of the machines. At least this is how it seems.

    Case in point: The copy machine in the library has an eight-digit code (more complex than the previously mentioned copy machine’s) and when an outsider attempts to use the machine — even if she possesses the code — she is interrogated and harassed.

    “But wait,” one might ask. “Don’t you work in a school? Why is there a need to lock the copy machines?” I have no idea. I have never seen anyone make massive amounts of copies for personal use — only copies used for classroom or school activities. Why then, if we need copies to do our jobs, must we jump through the various hoops put in place by random school personnel?


Our jobs are challenging enough without these arcane photocopier rules. Can’t we be treated like the professionals we are?

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